Vanguard Appraisals is new to the GIS world. In fact, we aren’t really in the GIS world; we just kind of brush up against it. We do mass property appraisal for entire county and city jurisdictions, and we develop software to collect, price and maintain values. We also host assessment data online so that homeowners can search and find property information much simpler from the comfort of their own home. Our software and websites are used in 7 states (IA, IL, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD).
We were happy in our little world, doing parcel stuff, not really knowing about or using GIS, but then the landscape started changing, and GIS started popping up all over the place. Our clients starting asking us if we could host their GIS data, as well as their parcel data. Some of our clients are very small; there is one person in the Assessor’s office with one computer, no server, and a very small internet pipe. Some of our clients are big with many users, multiple servers, and an internet pipe that makes me blush. :-)
We searched and found something that already worked with our favorite database: PostgreSQL. PG is already hosting our parcel data, so it seemed like a good idea to let it host our GIS data too. Using PostGIS combined with MapServer, Perl and OpenLayers, we came up with online maps that fit the bill:
PostGIS has been a great decision. When one of our programmers came up with a crazy idea about doing a sales ratio analysis and highlighting all the properties on the map, not only was it possible but not that hard to do, and it has already been implemented because of PostGIS.
I also cannot stress enough how good and helpful the online community has been. I went from knowing nothing about GIS to hosting maps only because of them and all the questions they helped with over the years.
Vanguard Appraisals: http://camavision.com/
Assessment Data: http://iowaassessors.com/
We host parcel data for all the yellow links, but we don’t host the maps for all of them. Some counties we host maps for are: Washington MN, Jasper IA, Van Buren IA, Iowa City IA. Just over 50 counties so far.
You can find the map embedded into the parcel page: http://vanburen.iowaassessors.com/parcel.php?parcel=000600307304130
or Full Page: http://maps.camavision.com/map/jasperia
Nautilytics is a small data visualization and GIS startup based out of Boston, MA. We use PostGIS and PostgreSQL, among other open-source tools to build powerful web applications for US government organizations, public, and private sector companies.
I used extensively postgis (+ecosystem) for my phd thesis, in several ways. The first is that PostGIS is a good steady horse (elephant?): a database is the perfect place to store a lot of very different information in the same place and put them in relation. For geospatial data, postgis means you always have a way to put data in relation (are they at the same place?).
The Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) is a research initiative of Argonne National Laboratory and the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago. We create computational tools to better understand cities. One of these is Plenario, our hub for open geospatial data. PostGIS makes the spatial operations at the heart of Plenario possible.